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Elements of an Effective Incentive Program

Today, managers have greater challenges then years past with retaining employees and keeping them engaged. According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee stays at his job for about 4.4 years. Employees that are younger are expected to stay with the employer half that time. This becomes a nightmare for Human Resource to have to continuously recruit, backfill and repeat the hiring process which has its own associated cost. This can also be very challenging while trying to maintain and achieve organizational goals. The question thereof is how does an organization effectively retain good employees? Many organizations are looking towards effective incenting to assist with other retention initiatives. What consist of an effective incenting program?

Recognition is one of the biggest retention tools that an organization can use; going beyond the simplistic “thank you” or “good job.”  An effective incentive program should have all of the following attributes.

  • Employee engagement /Employee buy-in- Employee participation is the key part of having a successful plan. Involving the employees in the goal setting or incentive make up will allow for better buy in as well as a better understanding of company directives and how their participation will affect the big picture.
  • Target Key performance goals/S.M.A.R.T. goals- These are a goals that are driven by company need, cost and organization values. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time based.
  • Consistent Management of incentives- Many incentives fail because of reasons such as management does not designate the proper amount of time, payouts are not done timely, calculations are incorrect or recognition is not given consistently. There has to be a strong level of commitment and communication from management in order to maintain effectiveness.
  • Clear Understanding of Payouts-Often incentives fail before even launch because the agents do not have a clear understanding of how they earn awards, gain points or are recognized in general. Payouts, achievements and rewards should be clear and specific on how they are earned.
  • Make it competitive and Fun-These tie into agent buy-in but ultimately, an incentive needs to be fun! Posting results in a team area, recognition parties and competitive ranting are just a few ways to keep it exciting and fun.

There are many tools that can assist with managing and keeping your incentives flexible and fresh. Gamification and Performance Management are two types of solutions that many organizations are implementing to assist with employee retention and morale and for managing internal incentive programs.

Gamification-“Gamification is a new concept in employee engagement gaining popularity as a solution to improve performance and retain good agents.”
(How Gamification Can Inspire Productivity in the Contact Center, Expert Opinion, 1to1media.com, November, 2013.)

Gamification allows for competition among employees. It has a proven successful throughout many organization that have implemented. In addition, it will significantly increase agent buy-in and agent participation. Gamification works by allowing agent’s to compete vs their peers or themselves and receive certain points, badges, etc. by achieving specific goals. Gamification is flexible where you can create goals at a department level all the way down to the agent level. Gamification is also a great tool to leverage a Quality Management and coaching program as well.

Performance Management is another solution that is a variety of different use cases; one of them being agent incentives and retention.  Some Performance Management solutions include gamification as an added bonus with incentive management. Performance Management gives agents and management staff a dashboard view of how they are performing at any given time. These dashboard views are great at showing how their performance contributes to the big picture and how they hold up against their peers.  In addition, it allows for a consistent story to be told rather than multiple reports being run with various interpretations of data allowing for discrepancies in incentive payouts.

While there is no golden ticket for running an incentive program, proper planning will prevent poor performance and the tools mentioned above will result in a great foundation to build an incentive program on resulting in a less employee turnover.